Without question, the most impressively organized and quickly successful breeding program in the world is that of the Japanese. Continually buying top end bloodstock in Lexington, seeking out top sire prospects (and paying handsomely), and maintaining an unshakeable focus on the biggest European events, the Japanese have built a truly remarkable industry in an unbelievably small amount of time.
The crown jewel of the Japanese racers is Orfevre. In fact, with two 2nds in the world's most important race, the Arc de Triomphe, I'm pretty sure you can say he's the best Japanese-bred of all time. And while he probably likes a bit firmer going than the swampy rating that seems to be the constant on Arc Day now, he is no doubt amongst the best Classic division horses in the world.
By a son of Sunday Silence, Stay Gold (JPN), Orfevre was the 7th winner of the Japanese Triple Crown. (Usually I talk about winnings at this point, but I'm going to forego that, seeing that the purses in Japan are obscene in both numbers of dollars and restrictions) And he was no flash in the pan either. A winner of 5 Group 1s in Japan and twice a winner of the G2-Qatar Prix Foy, he was the 2012 and 2011 Japanese Horse of the Year as well at the 2012 Highweight in France at 11-15 furlongs. (So in real terms Orfevre was the best horse at 27,694 meters and won 2.75 trillion Yen, or something like that)
Stay Gold's biggest victories were the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Day and the G1-Hong Kong Vase. at 12 furlongs on the grass. The Sheema has had some of the best turfers that like a bit firmer going in the world win it in St. Nicholas Abbey and Cirrus des Aigles. This is another international turf race where no American-trained horse has ever won. In fact, the most American thing about any of the winners of the Sheema was this one time that Gary Stevens rode a Euro to victory!
But more importantly, Orfevre's dam is a really great producer. While it is much harder to determine the true potency of mares when looking at winnings when the runners were not a stakes horse in Japan, it is still easy to see that Oriental Art and Stay Gold go together like peanut butter and jelly. Two foals, two champions. Orfevre's full brother is Dream Journey, 2006 Japanese Champion Juvenile and 2009 Champion Older Horse. Probably due to his prolific 2yo campaign, Dream Journey's average winning distance is a touch over 9f, whilst his younger brother's is almost 12.
So, the best international runner in Japanese history, from a son of the greatest stallion in Japanese history, out of a mare with two Japanese Champions. That sounds like a serious stallion prospect to me. So long as you're looking for a turf horse to get a mile and a half, you've got yourself a winner.
But while Orfevre's 2nd was impressive (and it really was as heavy as the track looked down on the rail where he finished) let's be completely honest. The day belonged to the girls. Moonlight Cloud literally displayed the definition of "turn of foot" and Treve showed the older boys the perfect way to win the Arc.
(Maybe Orfevre just needs to not run into a freaky filly on Arc day since he lost to 3yo Treve this year and 4yo Solemia in 2012. Tough breaks there.)
Treve is by Motivator, winner of the 2005 Epsom Derby and champion 3yo in England. While Motivator began his career in England, he's had a troubled history at stud. He only saw modest success prior to breeding zero mares in 2010 due to a ligament injury. He was subsequently moved to France. But as with all stallions, once you sell them they inevitably hit it big, a phenomenon known better as the Empire Maker Rule. But to date, Treve is far and away his best runner.
But the most interesting thing is how American Treve's pedigree is. Though she is French-bred, Motivator is from the Sadler's Wells line and is out of a US-bred Gone West mare. Her dam is also French-bred, but there are more USAs than not in the female tail of her pedigree. While you see the distance influence of Lyphard there, and the important mare Trillion as her 4th dam. Trillion was a champion herself and foaled champion Tryptich. As with most top class Euro runner, she is impeccably bred.
But Moonlight Cloud was really the big winner on the day. Dead last through 6 of 7 furlongs, she was shot out of a cannon and easily passed the field in the last 200 meters. Bred by George Strawbridge and raced by his Augustin Stables, Moonlight Cloud is the best foal of Invincible Spirit, typically a very nice juvenile sire, including BC Juvenile winner and flash-in-the-pan Vale of York.
Her female family is nothing remarkable, but you do see the traditional Juddmonte stallion Rainbow Quest, who is a strong influence for preference of both turf and some distance. She certainly falls into the category of "freak". But she's enjoyable all the same.
Ok, that's all I got today